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The taxation of Cryptocurrency profits is not so virtual

Cryptocurrency investors navigating 100% price swings and exchanges with generous down-time have, this tax season, encountered another hurdle: the tax authorities. Whilst the question “should I report my bitcoin profits?” was clarified by the Inland Revenue some four years ago, the more sobering questions of “how to report bitcoin profits?” and “how much will I be taxed?” have made it to the front of the line.

Whilst bitcoin continues to stir controversy for its inherent value, how bitcoin is accounted for is a far less epistemological thought- rooted in the International Financial Reporting Standards which, unsurprisingly, have not budged.

Currency (why don’t you come on over)

Cryptocurrency is not issued or backed by any government (at least for now), and so cannot be classified as “cash”. Nor does cryptocurrency confer to the holder a contractual right to receive cash or another financial asset (excuse the formulaic definition of “financial instrument”). Of course bitcoin has no physical form, so it cannot be accounted for as “property, plant and equipment”. This narrows down its classification to either of two forms, depending on the circumstances of the investor.

Inventory

Inventories are held for sale in the ordinary course of business. If you are a private investor who actively trades in bitcoin, for example, but not restricted to, “mining” coins, HMRC will view your ownership of bitcoin to be “for sale in the ordinary course of your business”. Consequently your profits will be deemed to be “income” which, as you know, is taxed at 20%, 40% and 45% instead of 10% or 20% as with Capital Gains Tax (CGT). HMRC and the courts will apply any of nine “badges” in deciding whether an activity constitutes a trade so professional advice should be sought on the optimal setup for a trader, as well as the tax and reporting implications.

Intangible assets (IAS 38)

Cryptocurrencies also meet the definition of an intangible asset: one which can be sold, exchanged or transferred individually and which has no physical form. This treatment of bitcoin as an intangible is pioneering for three reasons:

  1. This intangible asset is traded with a profit motive. Remember, intangible assets, say patents or brand names, have traditionally been assets held for use in the production process.
  2. Because of its essence in having no physical form, bitcoin carries low detection risk, compounding the profit motive above.
  3. Scale, and the sheer volume of investors who have crowded into this trade, compounding one and two above.

Taxation of bitcoin as an intangible attracts CGT at the less penile rates of 10% and 20%, depending on your tax bracket. In this case, investors would do well to seek professional advice on the correct measurement basis of gains and, for example, working out the tax when you have held different parts of your bitcoin portfolio for different periods of time.

How will they know (if I really own it)?

One theme from this tax season has been the reportability of cryptocurrency-related profits (though surprisingly, not so much losses!?). Note the following: UK-based trading platforms must provide data to HMRC on their customers. This may seem a moot point for now because the vast majority of cryptocurrency trading in the UK takes place on overseas exchanges, which may explain the low incidence of tax investigations. In this era of cross-border information sharing however, cross-border information sharing of cryptocurrency activity, and traders, may not be far away. In the US, Coinbase, the country’s most popular exchange, has already handed over identity information of 14,000 of its most frequent traders to the Inland Revenue Service. It would be fair to assume that HMRC too will tackle this traceability issue heads-on: tax payers who do not properly report their gains of virtual currency transactions may find themselves with penalties and interest.

Investment in cryptocurrencies merits investment in professional advice, whether you have made profits, or losses.
Contact Mouktaris & Co
to ensure that you report correctly, structure optimally and avoid the pitfalls, and potential repercussions, of getting it wrong.

Stay compliant, and keep hydrated.

 

Autumn Budget 2017

Chancellor Philip Hammond presented the 2017 Autumn Budget against a backdrop of ongoing economic uncertainty. In no uncertain terms, this was a glum budget. The Office for Budget Responsibility revised down its outlook for productivity growth, business investment and GDP growth across the forecast period, though the chancellor challenged the nation to “prove them wrong”.

Off we go.

The Chancellor announced the immediate abolition of stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers on homes worth under £300,000, and a rise in the tax-free Personal Allowance to £11,850 from April 2018.

Also unveiled in the Autumn Budget was a change to business rates revaluations: these will now take place every three years, as opposed to every five years, beginning after the next revaluation, currently due in 2022. The Chancellor also addressed the issue of the so-called ‘staircase tax’.

Our Budget Report summarises the key announcements arising from the Chancellor’s speech. Additionally, throughout the Report you will find useful tips and ideas for tax and financial planning, as well as an informative 2018/19 Tax Calendar.

Don’t forget, we can help to ensure that your accounts are accurate and fully compliant, as well as suggest strategies to minimise your tax liability and maximise your profitability.

If you would like more detailed, one-to-one advice on any of the issues raised in the Chancellor’s Budget speech, including on the ensuing tax implications, please feel free to call on 020 8952 7717 to see how we can help.

What does the 2017 Spring Budget mean for you and your business?

Following the UK’s historic vote to leave the EU, and with Prime Minister Theresa May poised to trigger Article 50, Chancellor Philip Hammond presented the Spring Budget against a backdrop of economic uncertainty. Figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that UK economic growth is now expected to reach 2% this year, before falling to 1.6% in 2018.

The Chancellor announced a range of significant measures for businesses and individuals, including a support package for firms in England affected by the business rates revaluation and the announcement that unincorporated businesses and landlords with turnover below the VAT registration threshold will have until 2019 to prepare for quarterly reporting.

Also unveiled in the 2017 Spring Budget was a reduction in the tax-free dividend allowance, which will fall from £5,000 to £2,000 in April 2018.

Our Budget Report provides an overview of the key announcements arising from the Chancellor’s speech. However, it also looks beyond the more sensational measures and offers detail on the less-publicised changes that are most likely to have an impact upon your business and your personal finances.

Additionally, throughout the Report you will find handy tips and ideas for practical tax and financial planning, as well as an informative 2017/18 Tax Calendar.

Don’t forget, we can help to ensure that your accounts are accurate and fully compliant, as well as suggest strategies to minimise your tax liability and maximise your profitability.

If you would like more detailed, one-to-one advice on any of the issues raised in the Chancellor’s Budget speech, including on the ensuing tax implications, please feel free to call on 020 8952 7717 to see how we can help.

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